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Arizona Self-Driving Truck Pilot Expands UPS Partnership

Self-driving truck developer TuSimple is expanding its partnership with shipping giant UPS in order to run more routes while developing its technology further at its main testing facility in Tucson, Ariz.

Self-Driving Car
(TNS) — Self-driving truck developer TuSimple has expanded its partnership with shipping giant UPS to run more routes as it develops its technology at its main testing facility in Tucson, Ariz.

The company said Thursday, Feb. 5, that it will double its service for UPS to 20 trips per week, with 10 runs on a new route between Phoenix and El Paso, as well as 10 trips per week on an existing Tucson-Phoenix route.

San Diego-based TuSimple also said that its autonomous trucks are achieving 10% fuel savings during operation for UPS when compared to traditional operation, similar to research results from the University of California at San Diego, announced last December.

TuSimple is helping UPS explore autonomous technology for its Global Smart Logistics Network, which “aims to improve network efficiencies, safety, and customer service,” Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer said in a new release.

“TuSimple has been instrumental to this initiative, so it was a logical next step for us to expand the test to additional routes within our North American Freight Forwarding lanes,” Price said.

UPS Ventures, the shipping company’s investment arm, made a first-of-its-kind strategic investment in autonomous ground transportation when it invested in TuSimple in August of last year, after a successful pilot program that started in March 2019.

The expanded partnership with UPS is a vote of confidence for TuSimple as the company works to expand its autonomous capabilities and demonstrate the first driverless operation in 2021, TuSimple Chief Product Officer Chuck Price said.

TuSimple and several development partners have been testing self-driving trucks in Tucson since 2017, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle under current rules governing autonomous trucking.

Last year, the company partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to perform five round trips for a two-week pilot on a route between the postal service’s Phoenix and Dallas distribution centers.

TuSimple said it now has 18 contracted customers and makes about 20 autonomous trips per day.

The company employs about 150 engineers, drivers and other workers at its technology center and terminal on East Old Vail Road and has announced plans to add hundreds of workers over the next few years.

TuSimple’s core technology, which uses advanced camera and image-processing technology, was developed in China, where the company has offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

Since its founding in 2015, the company has raised nearly $300 million from investors that besides UPS include Chinese internet giant Sina Weibo and leading graphics-processor manufacturer Nvidia.

©2020 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.